Should You Do Cardio Before or After Lifting Weights? Trainers Explain

Any complete fitness regimen includes cardio and strength training. Knowing if you should do cardio before or after weights is tricky. Experts believe you may optimize the benefits of cardio and weight training while staying safe and accomplishing your goals, but there are pros and cons to choosing a fitness order.

It depends on your aims. We normally focus on strength and endurance in fitness. It helps to know which aim is most important before choosing cardio or weights.

If you want to increase endurance and lose weight, start with cardio. If building strength and muscle is your main goal, weightlift first and then cardio.

The drawbacks of weightlifting before cardio depend on your goals. For endurance events like lengthy runs, Seki advises against weightlifting first. Moderate-to-high intensity strength exercise first can tire your body and mind and lower your aerobic performance later.

Either way, Seki and White agree that lower-intensity cardio warms up your muscles before a higher-intensity workout or strength training. White believes cardio initially “prepares your body to do difficult, complex exercises and conditions your heart to pump more blood,” reducing muscular damage risk.

Cardio before heavy weightlifting may be harmful. Heavy cardio before strength training can impair performance. Exercise burns glycogen, “our body’s primary source of fuel” in muscles, adds Seki. Burning too much fuel makes exercise harder and less effective. Burning out during cardio increases weightlifting injury risk, says White.

Another reason to practice cardio initially is to build endurance. This will “allow you to maximize your energy and focus to perform your best for that cardio workout,” Seki says.

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